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South African Government agrees to R5 billion bailout of SAA

After months of discussion following South African Airlines (SAA) request for a bailout from the standing committee on finance last year, South Africa’s Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan has announced the approval of a R5 billion going concern guarantee. This comes on top of R14 billion in guarantees already provided by the treasury.
However, there are strict conditions attached to the loan, resulting mainly from the fact that the airline has failed to submit financial statements to the treasury for the past two years. The loan requires greater financial stability from the airline, along with cutting costs in such areas as fuel, aircraft ownership, labor and procurement.
On Tuesday Gordhan confirmed that the airline lost R4.7 billion over the 2014/2015 financial year, while it has lost a further R1.8 billion this financial year. The revelation came during a bitter debate in the National Assembly on SAA, a debate which was dominated by demands from the Democratic Alliance for the chairperson of the airline, Dudu Myeni, to be removed from the post after she had been controversially reappointed for another year. Myeni assured that she considered the airline was in good hands and that despite claims to the contrary, the airline has never received a cash injection from the government. She was keen to point out that revenue was improving and that new routes had been developed.
The treasury has urged the board to appoint competent managers wile enabling them to manage without interference or to stop moving the goal posts for when the airline can return to financial stability, the most recent forecast being five years.
The carrier currently has a fleet of 43 Airbus and 7 Boeing jets, and services 43 destinations across the globe. In the financial year 2014-2015, it carried 9.3 million passengers with a load factor of 75%. (US$1.00 = R14.42 at time of publication.)

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